Abiding by the term-sharing agreement would have given the House of Representatives the chance to maintain its integrity and dignity, a lawmaker said on Wednesday.
Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza on Wednesday cited President Rodrigo Duterte’s sustenance of his role in the deal, being both its guarantor and witness.
“I don’t know with Alan Peter Cayetano, he went to the extent of getting people to sign a manifesto hoping to sway the President,” Atienza said.
“I was impressed. The President did not allow himself to be fooled,” he stressed.
Atienza said the 205 signatures which Cayetano’s camp had brandished prior to the meeting had no power against the President’s order.
The signatures were gathered after House leaders allegedly received their funds, a Daily Tribune source disclosed.
Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, however, insisted that despite Duterte’s intervention in the Speakership squabble, the final decision would depend on the congressmen.
“Some 205 (congressmen) signed for Alan Peter Cayetano to continue as speaker. That’s solid. This is because of his very good performance. He treated the members of the Congress fairly. He even gave the Minority a voice,” Villafuerte said.
The transfer of position to Velasco cannot be “automatic” despite Duterte’s disposition, he added.
“The situation is different now,” Villafuerte said. “Cong. Lord Allan Velasco still has to earn the trust of everyone including myself if he wants me to vote for him as speaker.
“He has to earn my trust. He should start with the people around Speaker Cayetano.”
“He can want the position but he has to earn it. That’s my advice to him,” Villafuerte stressed.
He said it is unfair for Speaker Cayetano to be seen as a “lame duck” (outgoing politician) by declaring Velasco assuming the post in two weeks.
Atienza, meanwhile, slammed Villafuerte’s statement, saying: “So now he is greater than the words of President Duterte?”
“Maybe Villafuerte thought he’s already the president. It was President Duterte who said that (Velasco will sit as House Speaker) on 14 October,” he said.
Atienza said the insults hurled at Velasco by Cayetano’s allies were all just part of a script to discredit the chosen successor of Cayetano’s seat.
“All of it is according to a script. It’s like saying: You, LRay, this is your statement. Dan Fernandez, you will tell this,” he explained.
The former Manila mayor added that there are two “Allans” in the Congress right now: One as having no principles and a very complete liar while the other, a man of integrity and wisdom.
He earlier described Velasco as a “man of reason, sobriety and fairness.”
Velasco’s camp has never planned to oust Cayetano, Atienza claimed.
“I deny that a hundred percent. That’s not true. It’s part of their made-up scenario. Periodically, they said there were two coup attempts,” he said.
“Why would he (Velasco) plot a coup when he is already the next in line?
“They said there was a coup to take place this month (September). That’s not plotted by Velasco because “to wait for a month” is the only thing he has to do.”
The alleged coup attempts were “self-inflicted issues” by Cayetano himself, Atienza stressed.
Atienza went on: “It’s like kidnap me! This time it’s coup-pal me.”
“Coup me, coup me!” he joked.
Atienza believed the Congress would follow the words of the President, noting that Cayetano had no numbers back in July 2019.
“The leading candidates that time were really Velasco and Romualdez,” he noted.
“Where was Cayetano? He would have landed number four if an election was held,” Atienza said.
He recalled that when Duterte endorsed Cayetano by the virtue of the term-sharing deal, nobody in the Congress defied it in 2019.
Under the deal, Cayetano will lead the House for 15 months before Velasco assumes the speakership post until 2022.